Why do you think you were targeted?
I think I was slightly darker skinned than a lot of people in my school so I’m not like everybody else. The second thing was my attitude to it because I’m not the sort of person that will back down from things, and that’s probably what elevated it a bit more but why should I back down?
I used to tell the teachers and nothing would happen, when I used to hit back that was when I got in trouble and I’d be the one who got kicked out of school because someone called me a ‘paki’ or a ‘nigger’ and hit me – so I hit then back and I got excluded.
It started about 8 years old maybe 7 when I was at school. A lot of kids used to call me racist names. It used to upset me. I used to go home crying. I used to go home upset every night. And then I decided when it got physical to hit back.
It went from there and sent me down a massive massive road off the road I should have been on for many years. It stemmed from a little kid, and I’ve only just got rid of it all. And I’m 25.
It was at school and if I went out down the park, the older kids would call me things and throw stones at me and hit me. It all elevated when I went to year 7. I was getting quite a lot of stick from all these lads and they decided to wait for me at the gates, 25/30 of them. I was never the smartest kid because I knew that was happening and I still walked home I didn’t ring my Mum to come and pick me up. But I thought no why should I?
And I walked home I got punched all the way and I had to run – because it got a bit too much. I ended up in hospital that night and I had a chipped jaw and 2 broken fingers. I went to school the next day and got excluded for 2 weeks – for hitting back.
That happened in a public place – was there anyone else around?
There was a lot of people around it was the end of school. Parents were picking their kids up, other kids were walking home, no one did anything.
Can you remember how you felt at the time?
I felt really, really, angry. I felt frustrated, I didn’t ever want to go to school again. I was in pain obviously but I knew that that would go. When I went back to school and they excluded me I was just like this system in the school is really not helping me whatsoever – they don’t actually care. And that’s when is started getting a bit ‘ok then’.
I went on a bit of a war path after that. And I had to watch my back for him and watch my back for this guy and it was an ongoing war.
I went to college and stayed out the way for 4 years and it kind of died down.
So you didn’t really feel comfortable in your area…
No I hated it. I had to fight for the right to walk to the shop – 2 streets away. It was like ‘right you know what might happen just be prepared for it’. It was quite intense.
And as you say that effected you for…
For ever. I mean it changed me as a person.
What would have helped you?
I think they should have, if we go right back to junior school, had raising awareness on racism and things like that…And no-one tackled that, nobody said anything so it was kind of like acceptable.
I think people who feel strongly about it whether it’s effected them or someone they love should actively try and raise awareness about it – getting into some of these kids minds early… I think schools should – from an early age – say that it’s wrong to ridicule someone because of the colour of their skin or their religion or anything like that.
Have you got any closing comments?
Be careful what you say to who, a lot of the things that were said to me most of the time were unprovoked, I did nothing wrong to that person. That sent me down a path of – I can’t hang about in my own area. I got into drugs, I got into crime, I got into gangs, because I couldn’t hang about with my real friends in my own area. My whole life changed it put me off track by – it wasn’t nice to go through. It can create depression. Just think…It’s not right.
Why have you agreed to share your experiences for the exhibition?
Because people should be aware of it and it’s a massive issue and the repercussions of all of that – as I’ve said – was quite bad, for years and years and years. Even when it had all gone there were things left behind. So we have to start from the foundations – which is always the young people. If they’re aware of it and know it’s wrong – maybe they’ll be less of it in the future.